Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good Morning.

That lake effect snow squall from Monday into Tuesday left us with 10 inches; the most for anywhere in this area.  We are expecting more tonight and into tomorrow but it appears that the bull's eye has moved somewhat to the east leaving us on the fringe.  I hope.

It looks as though I am not the only one shaking my head in wonder at the befuddled demeanor of our auto CEOs.  I wonder how they could have remained in business so long or the CEOs could be worth their inflated salaries when they could not even answer the question of how much they needed to stay afloat until the end of march.  Simple Living In Vegas asks the same question.  I know that a really tight answer to the question would be difficult given current conditions but I do think they could come up with a spread that is much more precise than 'substantial.'  On one of CNBC's afternoon programs yesterday (sorry but I don't remember which one) the anchor asked one of these clueless idiots if they would accept a bailout loan if one of the requirements was a total change in the top management (i.e. would they accept it the agreement put them on the unemployment line.)  He managed a non-answer.

Simple Living makes another observation that holds for both the auto makers and the execs at AIG (and other financial firms.)  The small stuff matters.  The almost half a million dollars spent by AIG for their business 'retreats' or whatever they called them after they received their bailouts may seem like small change compared with the billions they received, but not to main street America.  The same goes for the cost of running company jets.  These guys desperately need a good PR coach.  They should remember where the 'let them eat cake' attitude got Marie Antoinette

It seems that the health insurance industry is concerned that the incoming Obama administration may be able to put some serious health insurance legislation on the books.  Archcrone at The Crone Speaks links to a New York Times article outlining the proposal the two largest trade associations are pitching.  They will agree to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions and other factors if everyone is legally required to carry insurance.  I have the same problem she has with their proposal and it is the same one I had with John McCain's plan to give a tax credit to those who buy their own insurance.  I can't afford it.  I have NEVER been able to afford health coverage during my entire working life.  If I remember the statistics correctly the average coverage for a family of four was $12,500.  The average income in this country is around $45,000.  That is one quarter of the average gross income for health insurance.  I have never earned more than $20,000 per year.  The tax credit would only cover part of the cost and only after the tax payer had already shelled out the full cost.  That is the way a tax credit works.

This whole mess reminds me of an incident about twenty five years ago.  My then Mother's-in-law health worsened to the point where she needed constant care.  For a brief while she lived with her grandson (her brother's boy.)  But the arrangement strained his marriage and his finances.  The last time she was hospitalized they refused to take her back.  They simply could not take her back.  She spent about three months in the hospital while a Social Worker tried to find an affordable nursing home.  That Social Worker called my husband repeatedly (and usually talked to me) during that time with various plans to get us to pick up the tab.  Mother-in-law had loaned us the money to put a down payment on our house.  (I say 'loaned' but the situation was far murkier and emotionally traumatic.)  'Sell the house,' she said.  We told her that the housing market was tight and we could not sell at a price that would pay Mother-in-law back fully.  (Social Worker wasn't very pleased when I noted that even if we could sell and get the full amount of the loan the proceeds would only last 6-8 months at the prices she was quoting us for the nursing home.)  Finally, Social Worker suggested a 'modest priced' nursing home that would provide at least the minimum care Mother-in-law needed and ONLY cost $1500-$2000 per month.  I laughed hysterically while the affronted Social Worker indignantly asked what I found so funny.  I told her that the amount she quoted exceeded our ENTIRE monthly income: Husband's Navy retirement, Husband's full time job (as an assistant manager in a retail store), and my full time job.  That is the kind of position working people find themselves in.

Archcrone has another link that may also help explain part of the insurance trade associations' about face on the coverage issue.  Patients aren't the only ones dissatisfied with the insurance companies.  Doctors are also.  Some 49% of primary care physicians replied on a recent survey that they would like to leave medicine because of the amount of time they have to spend on the red tape involved in dealing with insurance companies and government agencies.  If the insurance companies get mandated universal coverage the doctors would have no choice.  Concierge doctors who refuse, at present, to take any insurance and the 'opportunistic' patients who would only buy insurance when they needed it would both be forced into a system that only benefits the insurance companies.

I think I will leave this post now.  I have a repair job to do on my sewing machine.  Evidently the wires in the power cord broke and the connection is tenuous.  Luckily I was able to eke out enough connection time to repair my winter jacket.  And luckily the plug is easily replaced.  I was afraid that the machine itself was going.  I was very relieved that it was only the plug.  I can't afford to have the machine fixed or replaced.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

The snow went to Ohio, Mary and Toledo and Cleveland are getting it. We're getting a little here but not that much yet.

I hear what you're saying re: healthcare and agree. I am very afraid of what's going to happen to people like you and I who have never been well off.